Teach a Child in the Way They Should Go
“To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” ~Sun Tsu
With two wonderful children of my own, the idea of passing on knowledge and still treating them as the individuals, they are is always at the forefront of my mind. It is the rare day when they do not teach me something. Both are sponges for knowledge and do their best to impress myself and their mother. Recently, however, I was given the chance to show them that even dads can and do make mistakes.
Around our house, lying is a cardinal sin, and it is the only thing that we do not tolerate in any way. One of the unfortunate side effects of daily pain and steadily increasing age is the occasional lapse in memory. During one of the many conversations with my precocious four year old daughter, I made an agreement with her. Later that night while talking to her mother with her in the room, the subject came up and I completely forgot the previous agreement. With all of the wonderful amazement of a four year old she said, “Daddy, you lied???” As I stumbled over my own jaw and rolled my tongue back up, she went on to say, “that’s the first time you lied daddy...”
After talking her mother down, and apologizing profusely to my daughter, she gaily began laughing and ran down the hallway to her brother’s room yelling, “Brother, daddy lied, daddy lied!” While she may not understand it now, this is a wonderful thing for her. Up until this very moment she has worshiped the ground I walk on. However, now she understands that no one is perfect, and that it is extremely important to keep our word as well as never intentionally lie.
In this modern world we currently live in, those who can lie the most artfully are lauded as statesmen and heroes of the people. They allow for their own defeat by continuing to lie with startling regularity, so much so that most people accept it as just one of those things. By teaching our youth as freedom lovers not to lie and to cherish integrity above all other ideals, we can secure our future as well. People will embrace the liars today, but eventually will learn that those with integrity are better by far.
Regardless of my personal proclivities, be they language, religious, or sexual, if I keep my word I will become by default the more important commodity in a world filled with the worship of lying and acting. What I have found over time is that in the long term, people can tolerate minor personal differences. However, they cannot tolerate lying. As a suggestion for the individuals reading, if you teach your children one thing outside of critical thinking, make it the necessity of integrity. Do this and your children will be set for life.
How do you teach them? Remember, they are children. Do as I say and not as I do has never worked in the history of mankind. They will always do what you do. If you lie or act without integrity, they will also lie and act without integrity. In fact, I have found that children and pets are the best reflection of adults. They will act in a manner that reflects the actions of the adults who are their caretakers. Yes even pets will act in reflection of the humans who care for them. Reinforce the values of keeping your word, I use a risk reward approach. My children earn greater responsibilities the more trust they earn as a result of exhibiting integrity and honesty in action.
My daughter loves to go shooting with me, and this is obviously something that requires a great amount of care and trust. Because she regularly exhibits great integrity and honesty even as a four year old, she has earned the right to accompany me on excursions. Of course, if they lie or act without integrity towards each other or others as they will do occasionally, they can and do also lose abilities. I verbally reinforce what is expected, and then also do it myself in action. For how can or why should I expect my children to do what I say if I then act in the opposite manner?
I am my children's caretaker, and what they learn about life is learned from me and those they are in contact with. Because I surround myself with quality individuals who hold similar beliefs regarding individuals, voluntaryism, agorism, and life in general, this is a relatively easy task. As someone who has spent years researching social order and societies as a whole, I am a firm believer in nature and nurture. I do not believe there is only one way or approach for all. Some approaches may work better than others for some individuals, but in almost every case of a “bad kid” or “bad adult”, I can track it back to failures by the parents in some form.
There are the very rare instances of true psychopathic personalities, where an individual is simply born bad. However, this is rare. So rare in fact as to be almost nonexistent in most cases. Murderers and rapists are taught or shown that this action is accepted or right even if they are never told it verbally. Teach our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6, I believe) - this was a favorite verse used by my parents. Unfortunately, like most Christians, they failed to understand that this didn’t mean verbally but by action!
In conclusion, remember - your actions as adults will be directly reflected in how your children act. They will be individuals, they will think and act in ways that are contrary to what you do as well. However, children will develop a core system that reflects your core system. For all of my parents’ failings, they taught me honesty and integrity of action. This stuck, and I am passing it on to my children; different methods, same core belief. If we want a world of peaceful agorist interaction, do it and get them involved in it. If we want to have them understand self defense, show it in our daily actions. Be the future we want to see in our children and they will make it a better tomorrow. Free the mind and the body will follow
Jesse Mathewson is the author of the popular blog, jessetalksback.com and provides commentary to many varied places based on a background that includes education in criminal justice, history, religion and even insurgency tactics and tactical training. He is also co-host of the Outright Arizona Podcast. His current role in his community is as an organizer of sorts and a preacher of community solidarity. As a voluntaryist and atheist his life is seen as crazy and wild by many, though once they get to know him most realize he is a bluntly honest individual who will give you the shirt off his back if he believes it is necessary to help you.